"Let machinery fake my place, who has time to chase. Digital is where it is. Love can always be replaced. Welcome to my consciousness. Welcome to our race. Everything is never quite enough."
Everything (is never quite enough) – Diop, Wasis
"Fina lights on."
"Welcome home Mr. Maxwell."
"Thank you Fina, setup console."
"Open VR unit one, setup, configure trance state."
"Open, setup. Mr. Maxwell?"
"The creation of your mate is complete."
"Yes Mr. Maxwell."
"Setup, configure, journey."
I almost felt nervous as I slipped out of my clothes and into the bodysuit, checking over the feed tubes, and then tapping the CR chips behind my ears. The module was already warm as I climbed in and stretched out, connecting the feeders to the chips imbedded behind my ears.
"Fina, close cover, commence journey."
"Journey initiated, code clearance accepted. Safe travels Mr. Maxwell."
My real life began the moment that cover slid shut. My eyes closing while my mind opened. My friends will never understand this, this feeling of being so exposed.
Within moments, I was in the desert, the sand scorching my bare feet. If I kicked at the sand, it would puff up in little dry flurries, but I didn't. Instead, I started running towards the brief flash of light that I'd glimpsed on the horizon.
When I glanced up, there was a cloudless and deep azure sky, an orange ball of a sun high above, drenching the golden sands. I could feel the heat of the sun baking into my back and shoulders; I could smell the arid and dry scent of the desert. I could even feel the sweat trickle down my neck. It was real.
An oasis was ahead, that's what was shining on the horizon; I knew this because I had programmed it in myself. Within that oasis would be my mate, it was finished and ready to meet. I say it, and rightly so, because Fina had not divulged the sex of my perfect mate. I had been open to either sex, since what I wanted was the ideal mate, the sex of it did not matter to me.
Gradually I moved closer, excitement in every step, until at last I could see the palm trees that ringed the tiny circle of water. There was shade within the ring of trees, a breeze that I felt flowing across my heated skin.
No one was in sight, only the mirrored water rippling slightly with the elusive wind. I opened my mouth to question Fina, when a sharp pain struck the back of my head. Before I could turn, blackness filled my vision and I hit the sand at top speed. Even in VR, you can be taken by surprise.
"You, wake up." I could hear whomever it was muttering, and then a hand rested on my forehead, a finger idly rubbing the spot behind my ear where a CR chip was imbedded.
"Come on, I didn't hit you that hard, wake up."
I groaned, the flash of pain across the back of my head giving me an instant headache. Fingers tightened on my shoulders, shaking me slightly.
"Ok, I'm awake, no need to shake. Stop." I managed to mumble. And the hands stopped, my head finally having a chance to calm down in its effort to make me sick with pain.
I opened my eyes slowly, the first thing I noticed was that I was in the shade. The second thing I noticed was the... person crouched over me.
"Who are you?" It asked, and I was still unable to tell what sex it was. The voice perfectly within range of either, even staring at the face that hung over my own, I could not tell what sex it was.
"Duo Maxwell, and who are you?" I sat up, rubbing the back of my head where I'd been hit.
"Hm." It responded.
I let my eyes wander, taking in what it was wearing and realizing it was a male. Well, I had told Fina to pick perfection. And she had, the boy before me was physically flawless, muscles defined, eyes clear, voice crisp and precise. I reached over and touched his arm, marveling at the smooth texture of it.
"Don't touch me."
I jerked my hand back, standing up and glancing around, I was still in the oasis. "Tell me your name."
He glared at me for a moment, and then stood up and met my eyes dead on. "Heero Yuy."
"Why'd you hit me Heero?"
"You don't belong here."
"What do you mean? I created this place."
"No, I created this place."
"What? I don't think so."
"Would you like me to prove it?"
"Alright, just try."
We stood across from one another, his fists were clenched, body posture rigid. All that covered him was a small piece of white cloth slung loosely around his waist. But it was the smooth metallic wings rising from his shoulder blades that had me fooled.
"Fina, terminate program." He said.
And to my surprise, I found myself inside the VR module, air rushing in, as the CR feeders released from behind my ears. I coughed, regurgitating the moisture that had built inside my lungs while I'd been out. "Fina... what was that?"
"Who was that Fina?"
"Your perfect mate Mr. Maxwell."
"My perfect mate is an Fliogan warrior?"
"Yes Mr. Maxwell. Are you displeased?"
"Oh no, I wouldn't say that." I stood and carefully began disconnecting from the module. "I wouldn't say that at all."
"Yes Mr. Maxwell?"
"Define how you searched for the creation input on the perfect mate."
"All databases were searched, comprehensive tests concluded that the perfect mate for you was one Heero Yuy."
"This is a real person? Not a creation?"
"He is both real and created Mr. Maxwell."
"Then this is what the system would have picked for me?"
"No Mr. Maxwell, the system is not designed to accept outside modified species."
"What did the system find?"
"The system found no matches."
"I see. Fina, what were the percentages of association between us?"
"Match rate 100% Mr. Maxwell."
"100%? Is that possible?"
"Yes Mr. Maxwell."
"And this Heero Yuy, he exists?"
"Correct, Mr. Yuy lives on Lavablue 6 at this time, the planet denoted to the Fliogan.
"He doesn't know he's my match, does he?"
"Records show, the search I performed was being followed and coexisted with a search that had been performed 2 years ago."
"You mean, he searched for the perfect match as well, and I was it?"
"Yes Mr. Maxwell."
"Interesting, Fina, why was he able to terminate the program?"
"Mr. Yuy is a level 39 techmaster, and his computer shares the name you have designated as my own."
"Fina, that's impossible, the levels usually don't exceed 30."
"Mr. Maxwell, levels on Lavablue 6 exceed over 54."
"They're that high tech?"
"Yes Mr. Maxwell."
"Shinalp and I'm only a 29. Fina, what information do you have on the Fliogan?"
"The Fliogan are a race of human devoted to scientific information and technology, genetic manipulation has resulted in the ability to merge metallic elements with human DNA. The latest findings over the past century have resulted in new forms of Fliogan. Information shows that Mr. Yuy is one of these; Steelshift alloy was introduced when in the incubator, thus forming Slipshot Diskwings and the ability to survive in vacuum."
"Wait a minute Fina. The ability to survive in vacuum?"
"Yes Mr. Maxwell. Mr. Yuy is a new type of Fliogan, and is able to mutate his body and merge with the Steelshift alloy to form a barrier."
"How does this help him survive in vacuum?"
"The metal coats all exterior surfaces including the head, a breathing device forms within the throat when this is done."
"And this is a perfect match for me?"
"Yes Mr. Maxwell."
"Won't we be physically incompatible?"
"No Mr. Maxwell. The Fliogan are capable of mating with humans, having derived from human stock themselves. All upgraded physical attributes are congruent and DNA matches conclusive."
"What have you gotten me into Fina?"
"He'll tear me apart!"
"So what you're saying Maxwell, is that what Fina created already exists?"
"Chang, you don't know the half of it. He's a Fliogan."
"What? What in creation was Fina thinking?"
"She wasn't designed to think, she was designed to apply all information sources to any task I set for her, and she performed that function perfectly." I rolled my eyes, and sat down, eyeing Wufei's face on the screen.
"So, what are you going to do?"
"You're getting way too much amusement from this Chang."
"I can't help it, it's funny that you didn't want the system to find a mate for you, and Fina not only found a mate, but the mate is a real one and exists outside of VR." He smirked down at me, shifting so that I could see he was sitting in his conservatory.
"You want to know the weird part? He's fully compatible with me."
"You're kidding? A techmaster Fliogan is compatible with *you*?" His eyebrows rose nearly to his hairline in surprise.
"I know, odd isn't it?"
"Very. What level is he?"
"39, can you believe it?"
"They've got higher levels, stands to reason."
"You're too smug, I knew I shouldn't have told you."
"Come on Maxwell, this is a good thing. You need to get away from that VR unit."
"Well, whatever. Point is Chang, how am I ever going to get along with a Fliogan?"
"Fina says he's your perfect match, so he's bound to be exactly that."
"Mr. Yuy is in the system, program journey set Oceanwalk."
"Setup, configure, open VR unit 1, ready program Oceanwalk."
"Set, format configured, language barrier breached."
"Mr. Yuy is running the program in a defined language."
"He's speaking in something other than a human tongue?"
"Yes Mr. Maxwell, Mr. Yuy is learning and speaking the language of ancient earth breed Mammalian Ocean going form Dolphin."
"Set, and Mr. Maxwell?"
"I would suggest a swimming lesson."
"He's not in original form?"
"The Fliogan form is suitable to underwater habitats as well as aerial."
"I feel so insignificant."
Transpod: A dimensional traveling device. The transpod will transport human mass within any area that contains another transpod. The time taken for each journey will always be exactly 10 nanoseconds, as time is folded as well as matter to create no ripple within the dimensions.
Slosta: A drink created from organic matter grown on Jilad, the Slosta is filled with nutrients that heighten awareness and energize.
CR chips: Two microchips implanted behind the ears, the connectors that allow a direct linkage to the VR modules.
Shinalp: A form of cursing, Shinalp is somewhat akin to saying "shit" or "ah shit"
Kajacrap: The Kaja is a life form located on the planet Neskin, a large beast known to produce huge amounts of feces. The phrase kajacrap is akin to saying "Bullshit"
Fliogan Warriors: The Fliogan is a race that attaches metallic wings to their young while they are still being formed within the incubators. The wings are partially organic, fusing with the young so as to become part of their bodies. This warrior race is known to be extremely high tech, and very vicious, most normal humans will not go near them, as they are known to kill without reason. Very little is known of the Fliogan or their ways.
Feed Tubes: Connectors that feed information and nutrients to any life form connected to any long-term device.
Lavablue 6: The planet on which the society of Fliogan reside at this time.
Levels: Technological knowledge is rated by level; most societies only have an average of 30 levels. The common level of most humans is 5, techmaster levels tend to be higher and in the upper ranges.
Steelshift: 1 of over a million different charted elements, Steelshift is partially organic, allowing it to be integrated with human DNA, testing is still in experimental stages, most distinguished users of this element are the Fliogan.
Slipshot Diskwings: A style of wing known to be common among the Fliogan, Slipshot defines the integration of movable parts, Diskwing is the style of the small circular patterns of metal that form the wings of Fliogan.